Jim Shockey's Hunting Adventures

Canadian Whitetail Adventures

Canadian Whitetail AdventuresSpecies

Whitetail Deer

Background

Before jumping on a plane destined for this cold province, the whitetail hunter should understand something about Saskatchewan. The whole of the province is not accessible to the American hunter; the southern farmlands where Milo Hanson killed the world record typical are for all intents and purposes, off limits. Is this a drawback? Yes and no. I was born and raised in Saskatchewan and OVER TIME and ON AVERAGE have seen the biggest bucks come from the forest country, where American citizens can hunt. Yes, there are large populations of whitetails in the southern farmlands, but up in the big forest, a hunter just never knows what might walk in. Also the hunting pressure is pretty much non-existent in the forest country. With such a huge forested area in which to live, the white-tailed bucks, GIVEN GOOD WINTERS, grow to maturity. Most will live and die without ever seeing or smelling a human being!

Our largest buck to date was an officially scored 204 1/8 buck (B&C score) taken by 78-year-old Erwin Brown (reported to be the third-largest buck taken by all the 4,000 non-residents who hunted the province for whitetails that year). Interestingly, this buck was taken after one of the worst winters Saskatchewan has ever experienced. One of our clients, Mike Williams, has hunted with us three times and taken two bucks that score more than 190 B&C points. The first—a brute with drop-tines at the end of the main beams—scored 191 B&C points, and the second had three drop-tines and scored 192 7/8 B&C points. Generally, if the weather cooperates by giving us a cold fall WITH SNOW, our hunters on average, take 1-3 bucks scoring over the magic 170 B&C points, but NOT always. Some seasons we don’t take a buck that large due to a bad winter or a warm fall. Still, rest assured, when you compare the number of big bucks in the B&C record book taken in Saskatchewan and compare that number with the relatively few hunters who hunt whitetails every year in Saskatchewan, that province offers the serious whitetail hunter the highest odds of taking a 170 B&C buck of anywhere in North America OVER THE LONG RUN.

Again, that all said, I want to make one thing ABSOLUTELY CLEAR; unfortunately there have been and will be again, entire seasons when the whitetail hunting in Saskatchewan is very difficult and challenging to say the least. Because our massive bodied Saskatchewan deer exist at the very northern edge of the whitetail deer’s range, the success rates on big bucks can fluctuate dramatically on a given week and given season.

Paul Meyer - 2010We would prefer that our clients only kill bucks that are mature, which by my definition means bucks that are at least 4 1/2 years old. Bucks in this age class will be heavy-horned and might or might not score well. In spite of what you might have been told or been lead to believe by the popular press, the average whitetail buck taken in Saskatchewan is very likely around 120-140 B&C points. They might be 4X4’s, 5X5’s or have a rack full of sticker points. They will look great on your wall because they are heavy and massive and our bucks can have giant bodies, weighing in at over 300 pounds.

That said, some of our clients might see beautiful 5X5 bucks with long tines and thin antlers that are only 3 1/2 years old and that score more than 140 B&C points. These are the bucks we prefer the hunter not kill, they are the monster bucks of the future. These are not what most hunters come all the way up to Canada to kill; they are coming up to have the best chance in the world of killing a heavy-antlered B&C record-book buck!

Our clients understand this and take great pride in our camp’s management program. It is their management program. They see the benefits over the years, and, though it might hurt to let those young pretty deer walk, ultimately it’s all for the hunter’s benefit. Odds are, over the course of six days, most of our hunters will see several bucks, and hopefully at least one of those bucks will be in the 130- to 150-plus class or bigger. One cold snowy fall, one of our most experienced hunters saw 10 different bucks that he felt would score between 140 and 155!

But again, the number and quality of the bucks sighted will come down to what effect the previous winter had on the deer population, what the weather has done in the weeks and months prior to the November hunting season (the colder the better) and what it is doing that particular week. What the hunter sees will also depend on whether there are wolves in the area. Unfortunately we have no way of predicting where and when wolves will show up or the results of a bad winter; no way to determine how the deer are doing, other than putting hunters on stand and awaiting the results of the season.

What we can do and have done, is limit the number of hunters we take the following year if we feel the success rates are not up to our expected standards. WE ARE ONE OF THE VERY FEW OUTFITS THAT VOLUNTARILY REDUCES THE NUMBER OF HUNTERS WE TAKE THE FOLLOWING SEASON if we suspect our area has suffered a die off. We have upon occasion, dropped the number of hunters we will take  camp down to 12 (although we are allowed to take 40) all in an effort to work with our clients to manage the deer herd and increase success rates on big deer.

George Bowering 2010Basically we make the number of hunters we take the following year, dependant on the results from the previous year. It is a reactive strategy, but we have found this is the only way we can manage our herd and harvest success rates on old bucks. The hunters who stick by us over the years, who understand the complications we face outfitting in Saskatchewan, who do not get upset because the results were less than expected on a given year, and who trust that we will do our best to produce big bucks for them, are the ones that ultimately end up with a world class buck.

In the end, no matter how hard we try, the hunter’s success will depend on the luck of the hunter, the winter the year before, whether a wolf pack has decided to grace us with their presence that week or season and sometimes whether the hunter is awake and alert or sleeping on stand!!

Obviously, during the course of the season, all things being equal, while some of our hunters may have the chance to kill true world-class monster bucks, the vast majority will not. The best defense for a big buck is the hunter who tags up on a smaller buck! If you can hold out and not shoot the smaller bucks, (that's relative, because even our smaller bucks are big bodied) the odds will have improved for you to have a chance at a better buck.

The average number of buck sightings on good seasons when the stars align, has been around three to seven different bucks per day. Of the deer you do see, though, hopefully there will be one that you will be proud to bring home. And there is the chance that the one you see is a giant!

All that said, we are happy with whatever buck you are happy with and please come with realistic expectations. The big bucks are there, it’s the best place in North America (based on the B&C record book entries compared to number of Saskatchewan deer hunters) to take a big buck if you persist, year after year, but you won’t see a big buck behind every tree and on a bad week or year, not only you may not see a buck you want to take home, but it’s possible not a single hunter in camp that week will see a big buck. That’s hunting. In the long run, if you plan to return year after year to Saskatchewan, you’ll get your trophy buck, but again, be realistic and you won’t be disappointed. The camp is comfortable, the guides and people are the nicest and hardest working professionals you’ll ever meet, our equipment is top notch and my area is as good as they come. Enjoy yourself and have fun. With luck, the deer will cooperate and it’ll be the hunt of a lifetime, and if not, it’ll still be a wonderful experience.

Lodging and Food

Our lodge is located in the town of Smeaton and is set up with private bed rooms and a large central area where clients dine and hang around to tell hunting lies (a hallmark of any good deer camp!). We serve excellent home-cooked meals, the showers are hot, the service always comes with a smile and, given advanced notice, we can usually accommodate special needs diets. 

Terrain

Our territory is comprised of roughly 200 square miles and the majority of our blinds are located in fringe habitat between timber and farmland (this region is the ideal mix of farmland feeding areas on the fringe of dense wooded bedding areas comprised of aspen, spruce and jack pine). The hunting strategy is to locate the deer traversing back and forth from feeding areas in the farmland to bedding areas in the timber. Deer constantly move back and forth between these two areas and if you can sit all day you might see the deer of your dreams at any time.

Hunting Style

The hunting method of choice in the forested regions of the province is stand-hunting. Saskatchewan regulations permit baiting, and this has proven to be a very effective way to concentrate the deer. The hunter should expect to sit on stand for hours at a time, all day preferably. Properly equipped, any hunter can do this. Hunting is conducted exclusively from ground blinds (primarily portable tent blinds) with bait generally set up 50-125 yards from the blind for rifle blinds and baits set up at archery appropriate distances from 20-30 yards.

Our experienced guides will take you to your stand every morning and pick you up every evening. Every one of our clients has a radio, and your guide will be in contact with you during the day to see if you need help or have killed a buck.

Clothing

The weather can get extremely cold in Saskatchewan (particularly during the later rifle seasons) and history has shown that the colder it is, the better your chances are for taking a huge buck. Once you send us your deposit, a complete list of gear will be sent to you and we highly recommend you take our advise for gear (especially the cold weather gear advice for our later rifle hunts). The longer you can sit in your blind, the better your odds for taking a buck of a lifetime.

Travel

Clients fly to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; on the Saturday before their hunt and stay there overnight in a hotel of their choice (we can supply suggestions in this regard). The next morning, Sunday, if they want, they can rent vehicles and drive up to the hunting camp, but mostly the clients are picked up by our guides. The trip is approximately 3 1/2 hours. At the end of the last day of hunting, six days later on the following Saturday, we have dinner and then drive the clients back to Saskatoon where they again stay overnight. Usually they book their flights to fly out on Sunday.

If the client cannot make it to Saskatoon for pick up or if the client intends to leave camp early, after he gets his deer, it is best to fly in and rent a car and drive up to camp. We recommend this as it isn’t always possible to hire someone to drive a hunter back to Saskatoon early. Sometimes we can arrange to have a hunter driven back early, but there will be a charge of $150 USD for this service.

Everyone entering Canada by sea or air, beginning Jan. 8, 2007, including US Citizens, will need a passport. All American hunters, planning to hunt in Canada or elsewhere in the future, should apply for a passport right away if you don’t already possess one. Also, please note that Canada is fairly strict about allowing non-citizens into the country if they have past criminal records or game violations (Canada shares game violation data with Fish and Game agencies in the USA). If you have any legal issues in your past, regardless of how long ago they occurred or the nature of the offense, it is wise to look into your prospects of successfully getting into Canada before booking your hunt. Much of the info regarding this process can be found at:

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/inadmissibility/conviction.asp

Recommended Equipment

Our bucks are huge-bodied, upward of 300 pounds, so I suggest rifles of .25-06 and larger using quality bullets. Many of our hunters use calibers up to .338 Magnums and those aren’t overkill (a deer can’t be “too dead” after the shot), but we’d rather see you bring a gun that you can shoot accurately as opposed to a huge magnum that you don’t shoot as well.

Gun Importation

To bring your gun into Canada you will want to get a US 4457 form filled out in advance (this is available at any airport which has US Customs offices and can be stamped for approval by a customs agent when you bring them your rifle to verify the serial number). Once you arrive in Canada you will need to fill out a firearms declaration form and pay $25 CDN to temporarily register your firearm for your trip. Please note that handguns are not legal in Canada and cannot be brought in. Archery equipment does not require any special permits to bring in or out of Canada.

Dates

The rifle/muzzleloader hunting season starts the first Monday in November and runs through the entire month (some years into the very beginning of December). All hunters arrive on Saturday, stay overnight at a hotel in Saskatoon (at their cost) and then leave for camp early Sunday morning. The hunt begins Monday morning and runs through Saturday evening (6 full days in the field) after which hunters are driven back to Saskatoon to overnight at the hotel (again at their cost) and then fly home Sunday morning. In terms of numbers of hunters per week, we keep the camps to a maximum of 6 hunters per week unless there is some special arrangement made in advance. As far as the best week to come hunt with us, on any given year it might be the first week, the middle weeks or the very last week of the season. Anyone who has hunted whitetails for very long knows that despite all the research in the world, big bucks do what they want, when they want and no one can accurately predict their behaviour on any given week. The best thing to do is pick a week that fits your schedule and/or personal preference and then spend as much time on stand as possible paying close attention to everything around you. Choice of dates is determined by the date your deposit is received – first come, first served!

Getting your trophies home

Your trophy will be caped in the field, have the skull removed and the cape frozen. We can have your trophy mounted by a local taxidermist we recommend and shipped to you upon completion or you can bring an extra duffle bag and take the frozen cape and skull home with you. If you choose to take the cape and skull home with you, all risks and additional luggage costs are your responsibility (please check with your airline in advance as all of them have different rules regarding the shipment of antlers and hides).

Cost (all prices in USD)

4,830 USD plus 5% GST (6 day rifle hunt) - observers are welcome for a fee of $1575 USD. Although we have never exercised it, we reserve to right to add a “fuel surcharge” to cover extreme rises in fuel prices between the time you book and the hunt date. Please note that wounded deer are considered exactly the same as a killed deer – the hunt is over and no credit will be given for the following season.

Deposit

A $2,415 USD deposit is required to hold a date and the balance of the hunt price is due August 1st of the year of your hunt. All deposits are non-refundable for any reason. Requests for date changes once deposits have been paid will only be honored solely at our discretion and are subject to a 10% processing fee.

Refunds

All deposits and balances paid are completely non-refundable in whole or in part for any reason including but not limited to: illness, injury, flight delays, unforeseen loss of income, early departure, late arrival, business emergencies, family emergencies, etc. Also, please be aware that any animal that is injured in any way is considered fatal and your hunt will be over.

Included

All lodging, food and beverages while hunting (including alcohol in moderation), transportation from Saskatoon airport to camp, professional hunting guides, and field preparation of animals.

Not included

Commercial flights to Saskatoon, hotel rooms before or after hunt (generally one night in Saskatoon on the Saturday before the hunt and one on the Saturday night at the end of the hunt), licenses, tips, trophy shipment or taxidermy.

To Book a Hunt or for More Information

Contact: Dan Goodenow
Phone: 248-613-7549
Email: dgoodenow@jimshockey.com

To See Photos from Deer Camp

Click the following link: Deer Photos

 
Jim Shockey Desert Golf Shootout 5
 
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